Going to get your car fixed can be a stressful situation. Who do you trust? What are they talking about? What does that mean? Do I really need that, or am I being ripped off?
You work hard for your money, the last thing you want to do, is waste it on something you don’t need. Especially, on a bunch of metal parts and labor costs when you could buy a new outfit! And yes, for many, add to your investment portfolio!
Traditionally, people assumed it was just women who knew nothing about cars. Today, it is a little bit of everybody. Times have definitely changed. This is a very broad topic, so we’ll start to the basics.
1. OIL CHANGE
Changing your engine’s oil is very important. You wouldn’t fry an egg without cooking oil, would you? Well yeah, changing your engine oil keeps the engine parts from jamming and sticking.
Consumerreports.org recommends that you have your oil changed every 7,500 miles or so. Back in the day, it used to be every 3,000 miles. There have been many improvements since then. It will generally cost you between $40 and $80 bucks depending on the type of oil you chose and the size of your vehicle. Some people choose synthetic oil, because it can extend the life of your engine. It will cost you a little more but may be worth in in the long run.
That screeching scraping sound is not your mother-in-law, or your man’s ex-girlfriend. It may be your brakes. If you pull up to a stop sign, and you here a rough grinding sound, that means your breaks are worn to the bone. Usually, if you get the brake pads changed before they get to that point, you will not have to get the rotors replaced. Rotors are those things that look like giant DVDs when you look through your hub caps or rims. If the brake pads wear down, they cut into the rotors. That means they will all need to be replaced; pads and rotors. The average break job can run you about $500 give or take, depending on your make or model.
That shaking you feel while you are driving? That is not your nerves! You may need an alignment. If you hit enough pot holes and curbs, it will throw off the wheel alignment. The result is it causes the steering wheel and front end to shake while you drive. That is because your wheels are rolling in competing directions. Most local repair shops can easily fix this problem. They simply re-align your wheels. It can cost anywhere between $50 and $75 bucks. That is generally for one axle only. For all four wheels, it can be up to $150 dollars.
Just like those expensive pair of shoes wear out, so do tires. If your tires have gotten so worn, that they look smooth with no lines, it is definitely time to get new ones. In fact, it is a safety hazard depending on the driving conditions. Sometimes there is tread left on the tires, but only on one side of that particular tire. That means you need new tires and an alignment. Another thing to keep in mind is, if you get a flat tire or have a slow leaking tire… it doesn’t always mean you need an all new tire. Some repair shops can plug the hole with this gummy pencil looking thing. Sometimes they can, sometimes they can’t. It is good to know your options. Unless you plan to be in the next “Fast and Furious” movie, you don’t need the top of the line racing tires for your Corolla. Tire prices vary widely from the size of your car to the brand you choose. If you cannot afford all four tires, check with your mechanic. Sometimes, you can get by with only two new ones. You can do the others later when you have the cash!
5. BATTERY LIFE
No, this is not about your iPhone! This is about your car battery! Back in the day, car batteries used to go slowly. The lights would dim, you would get a jump or two with some jumper cables and a good Samaritan. If you had a stick shift (manual transmission), you would be able to easily jump start your hoopty! Today, when batteries go, they go. No warning, no mercy. If you are lucky, it may be just your battery that went. In some cases, it is the alternator. An alternator is like a mini generator that recharges your battery while the car is running. If that breaks, the car quickly drains the battery. Your mechanic can run tests to determine which is the real culprit. Battery replacement can cost between $50 and $90 bucks. For premium batteries, it can run you between $90 and $200. An alternator replacement can run you a whopping $500 to $1000, depending on your make and model.
The best thing anyone can do, is do your research. Meaning google it! Ask friends and family if they know a mechanic they can trust. If you have a good car insurance policy, ask them if they offer roadside assistance, as part of their coverage. It is extremely cheap and well worth the few extra dollars when you get in a jam. Good luck and drive safe.